After much internal debate, Grassroots International closed its in-country Eritrea Program in 2005. The program, one of Grassroots' oldest, had become untenable because of the political situation in Eritrea, where long-promised democratic elections have been repeatedly postponed and journalists and political and religious dissidents jailed or exiled. The ruling party maintains uncontested control of virtually all aspects of political, social and economic life in the country. While any decision to end partnerships or programs is a difficult one, this was particularly painful for us as an organization, given our long-standing ties to Eritrea and to the movement that led its liberation.
Despite the lack of political space, we could not simply walk away in this dark hour. We are currently supporting an Eritrean diaspora group in South Africa – the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) – that is engaged in human rights and civic education and are in the process of exploring ways to continue to support human rights and movement building within the Eritrean diaspora.